Change is Life

I ran across this song on New Year’s Day. It is a beautiful song (written by Canadian singer songwriter Alana Levandoski) about the things we want to let go of and the things we want to hold on to as another year begins. It is thoughtful, moving, melancholy, and (depending on how you’re starting this year) maybe a bit scary.

This year, like every year, will bring change for us all– change we may or may not be able to predict or control.

Change is natural. Time and change turn beautiful, helpless babies into capable, confident adults.

Despite all of the natural changes we experiences throughout our life, change can be off-putting, nerve-wracking. Change  can turn our lives upside down — for good or for ill. And yet, change will come most certainly.

So, what better way to start 2018 than to take some time to learn about how to manage, process, and cope with the changes we all experience in life?

Wednesday, January 17 from 6:00 to 8:00pm at the Manluk Centre, Storybrook Therapy (sponsored by FCSS Wetaskiwin) will be offering a two-hour seminar on how to cope with change and transitions in life. Whether due to death, divorce, illness, aging, job change, moving, or other loss, there will be lots to learn. We will look at how change influences us and others, and discuss ways to cope, manage, grow and possibly even thrive through the changes of life.

To register for this evening seminar, please call FCSS at 780-361-4425.

We hope you will join us and that you will look to this new year with hope.

Suffering is Inevitable (and what I learned from a 7 year old with the stomach flu)

My two youngest children have a very different approach to being sick. When my youngest daughter gets the stomach flu, even when she was 4 or 5 years old, she would go to the washroom, be sick, and go back to her room and no one would really know anything about it until she told us later. My son, on the other hand, who was two years older than her offered us a fairly significant warning system that he was about to be sick. It involved a lot of yelling, calling for us to come, and right before it happened, he would yell panicked, yet matter-of-factly, “I’m gonna do this! This is happening!”

We always thought it was funny because he was older, he was a boy, and all the usual stereotypes about toughness, while our little daughter just quietly went through her uncomfortable moments like they were no big deal.

Today that memory got me thinking about life in a number of ways.

We don’t want to have uncomfortable moments. We don’t want to have pain or suffering, whether it’s in our physical bodies, in our relationships, work, finances, etc. A lot of our time can become preoccupied with trying to stop these bad things from happening. And in lots of ways that can actually be helpful. There are things you can do to maintain positive circumstances in your life.

However, suffering and pain is an inevitable part of life. We can’t escape it. Certainly not all the time.

What I learned from my son and his approach to the stomach flu is: he was acknowledging that something uncomfortable was going to happen and he was psyching himself up to deal with it.

“I’m going to do this because this is happening.”

How often do we approach our problem situations with, “I don’t want this to happen” or “I can’t do this”? And then maybe we ignore the problem for a while or wear ourselves down with negative thoughts about our inability to cope. Neither of these attend to the problem. And so it’s still there.

What does it look like to approach our life problems with “I’m going to do this, this is happening?”

The bad thing is happening: the trouble with our finances, the uncomfortable situation with a family member, or something we are struggling with personally… Those things are happening and now how are we going to do to walk through it all?

The truth is, we walk through our struggles one way or another. Denying our problems or pushing them away might seem easier in the moment, but the problems always find ways of leaking out until we start paying attention.

Sometimes we feel ill-equipped to handle our problems ourselves. Thankfully we live in a time in history where it is much more acceptable to talk about hard things of all sorts. If you feel like you can’t manage on your own, there are so many resources available to you if you take that first step of asking.

So, next time you have something overwhelming in life, think of my son with his loud, dramatic voice, and make the choice to boldly say, “I’m going to do this because this happening.”

In the end, is it really a choice? Yes and no.

You don’t always choose your circumstances, but you do get to choose how you face them.


Storybrook in Ecuador

Stop for a moment and look at this woman.

What do you imagine she is thinking about? What kind of life do you think she leads? Would you have anything in common with her? What similarities and differences might there be between your life and hers?

Three years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador for a missions trip. Before going I was asked to speak about grief to a church in a small Quechua mountain village. I did my best to present information that would fit cross-culturally, and it went well. I also prepared a little reflective, art exercise for some of the women to do in a seminar the next day. I was happy and quite relieved when all of the things I had prepared were done. That’s when the pastor said, “I thought you were going to do one-on-one counselling as well.”

So there I was a few days later taking a taxi up a bumpy mountain road with a friend who is a pastoral counsellor, and we met with women for two days straight. Women dressed just like the lady in the picture. A lot of the younger ones came in with babies wrapped on their backs. I was in one corner of the concrete church sanctuary. My friend was on the other side. We each had a translator. The women came in one after the other for those two days.

I remember wondering (yet, surprisingly, not feeling worried) about how I would be able to help them — their language was different; their lives looked so different.

But guess what?

Their worries and struggles were the same.

They worried about their teenage kids and their husbands who worked away. Some of them struggled with anger. Some were lonely. A lot worried about what the future would hold. The external circumstances might look a little bit different, but inside it was the same, human story that we all have.

Wonder and worry. Stress and struggle. Fears and follies.


At the end of this month I get to go back to Ecuador. Two doctors, two nurses, and two counsellors will be travelling to do women’s clinics in two parts of the country. I am excited to be able to sit and hear these women’s stories again. To listen with my heart and give them some tools. But, mostly, I want to remind them that they are not alone.

Our stories and struggles connect us when we have the courage to share.

Stay tuned for more as Dixie from Storybrook goes back to Ecuador!